Frank Mescall, county committee chairman, making the presentation to Eoin Weir.

Coyne's goal drives Blues on

Raharney 1-16 Cullion 0-7

Raharney’s second string recorded a comfortable win over a depleted and experimental Cullion outfit in Saturday evening’s Division 3 hurling league final at TEG Cusack Park.

A 26th-minute goal from Robbie Coyne gave the Deelsiders an ample cushion at the interval, when they led 1-9 to 0-3. Although Raharney were less impressive in the second half, Cullion just didn’t have the firepower or tactical versatility to turn the tables, and missed a late penalty to add insult to injury.

The Mullingar men, for the most part, pursued a policy of bombing the sliotar down the middle in the hope of generating a goal or two, but the likes of Matt Shaw and Pearse Weir-Norris mopped these up with ease. As the Blues went forward, Michael Doherty, Brian Smyth and Donie Mullen were among the scorers.

In the middle of a downpour, it was Cullion who opened the scoring with a point from Jamie Kindregan but from there, Raharney settled down to dominate the opening quarter.

The Deelsiders equalised when Aaron Ready dispossessed Tadhg Desmond to strike a fine point, and after six minutes, Raharney took the lead when Dean Core picked out the evergreen Brian Smyth with a long ball. Smyth fired a powerful shot at goal, but Cullion netminder Conor Kelly got his hurl to it and knocked it over.

After missing two early dead-ball chances, Donie Mullen made it three for Raharney with a seventh-minute free, and he had a sniff at goal moments later only to be denied a clean strike by a Cullion defender.

Mullen was in action again after 11 minutes when he volleyed a pass from Jamie Carr towards the posts, striking the upright. Raharney missed a ‘65’ shortly after but they had no reason to panic; they were comfortable at this stage, with Cullion’s strategy of playing down the middle easily shut down by a resolute Raharney defence.

Brian Smyth added his second point for the Blues before Cullion, against the run of play, almost nabbed a goal through Seán Regan, who, after being presented with an empty net when Raharney ‘keeper Darragh Weir collided with one of his defenders, failed to pull the trigger. Regan instead teed up Pierce Shaw, who shot over.

Michael Doherty (Raharney) and Brian O’Reilly (Cullion, a free) traded scores before the Blues closed out the half with an unanswered 1-4. Doherty, easily the best player on the field in the first half, tacked on another two superb points before the half ended.

However, the key score came on 26 minutes when Robbie Coyne – after mishitting the sliotar on the first attempt – swung at it with his hurl while going to ground, making enough contact to drill a low shot to the net.

Jamie Carr followed this up by showing exquisite control before notching up his first point, and on the stroke of half time, Donie Mullen underlined his growing influence on the game with a nice point inside the right corner, as Raharney led by nine at the whistle.

Cullion had the benefit of a slight breeze in the second half and it made for a lower-key Raharney display. The men in maroon, however, were heavily dependent on dead ball efforts.

Mullen (Raharney) and O’Reilly (Cullion) exchanged frees after the restart, before a third free from O’Reilly and a well-struck ‘65’ from Conor Shaw cut Raharney’s lead to seven by the 41st minute (1-10 to 0-6).

However, the Blues and Mullen pressed on, and in a nine-minute spell, he shot three fine consecutive scores, one of them from play and the first a magnificent long-range free from the terrace side.

Conor Shaw pointed from play for Cullion, and then on 54 minutes he had a chance to pull his side back into the reckoning after Brian O’Reilly was impeded and referee Brendan Heaney awarded Cullion a penalty. However, Shaw struck it without any venom and Raharney blocked and cleared.

Late points from Mullen (a free) and Aaron Ready completed the rout for the Deelsiders, and at full time, captain Eoin Weir accepted the Division 3 trophy from Westmeath GAA chairman Frank Mescall.

Scorers - Raharney: D Mullen 0-7 (5f), M Doherty 0-3, R Coyne 1-0, A Ready, B Smyth and J Carr 0-2 each. Cullion: B O’Reilly 0-3f, C Shaw 0-2 (1 ‘65’), J Kindregan and P Shaw 0-1 each.

Raharney: Darragh Weir; Cian O’Connor, Matt Shaw, Conor Donoghue; Paddy Kelly, Pearse Weir-Norris, Dean Core; Jamie Carr, Michael Doherty; Robbie Coyne, Luke Darby, Eoin Weir; Donie Mullen, Brian Smyth, Aaron Ready. Subs used: Leon Broderick for Doherty (51), Jamie Farrelly for Coyne (57).

Cullion: Conor Kelly; Shane O'Connor, Liam Shaw, Tadhg Desmond; Jamie Kindregan, Conor Shaw, Andrew Connaughton; Conor Gilhooley, Donal Mulvihill; Pierce Shaw, Cian Walsh, Brian O’Reilly; Eoin Fox, Marc Watters, Seán Regan. Subs used: Pearse Corroon for Walsh (26), Anthony Kelly for Regan (38), Damien Golden for Watters (38), Joseph Cahill for Mulvihill (57), Shane Dalton for O’Connor (57).

Ref: Bernard Heaney (Clann na nGael, Co. Meath).